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Environment: Report finds climate financing lacks guidelines

30th Jun 2023
Environment: Report finds climate financing lacks guidelines

A report by Reuters, in collaboration with Big Local News, a Stanford University journalism programme, examined United Nations climate financing reports and found that many projects developed countries funded and claimed to be climate financing had little or nothing to do with climate mitigation or adaptation efforts.

Some of the projects, such as a coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh financed by Japan, increase carbon emissions and contribute to climate change.

Others, such as an Argentinian romantic film, an Italian coffee shop franchise, and a hotel development in Haiti, have little connection to climate change. Some recipients of the funding claimed not to have any knowledge that the financing they received was categorised as climate finance or was intended for climate mitigation efforts.

The original agreement, signed at United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in 2009, called for developed countries to contribute $100 billion annually to developing nations to support climate action.

Since the $100 billion annual funding amount was agreed to, media outlets have reported how the goal has never been met. However, it has gotten closer each year. The Reuters report points to a potential reason why reporting shows higher climate financing figures without robust emissions-reducing projects to back them up.

The lack of reporting guidelines does not mean that rules have been broken but points to the need for clarity so that nations will be forced to stop greenwashing. The United Nations climate framework did not want to impose strict guidelines on developing nations, which are hardest hit by climate change, believing they would understand their own needs best. However, climate finance for global south nations evokes the idea of renewable energy projects such as solar and wind power installations.

There is also a strong need for resilience and mitigation efforts, such as stormwater drainage systems, as well as better building codes and materials to withstand stronger storms.

The Reuters report called out Japan more than any other nation for its poor reporting, inflated figures, and contribution to myriad projects that contribute more to climate change than mitigating it.

Documents from the Japan International Cooperation Agency regarding the Matarbari coal project in Bangladesh were examined to better understand how it could be deemed climate financing. Reporters found that the project has been in the works for a decade and uses a form of coal that emits fewer emissions than conventional options. However, it will still emit more than 6.8 million metric tonnes of CO2.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not the Japan International Cooperation Agency, reports on climate financing. Deeming such projects with climate finance helps Japan tout itself as one of the world’s greatest financiers for climate projects.

Japan has other fossil fuel projects in the works, though it signed onto 2021 and 2022 G7 pledges to end new, unabated fossil fuel projects.

There are disagreements among countries about how to define climate finance. Natural gas has been a point of contention, as it is considered cleaner than other fossil fuels but emits methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than CO2. Ghana has reported that it will not support a deal that bars natural gas project spending.

Island nations have a different view of keeping a flexible definition of climate finance. They have pushed for stricter rules on climate financing guidelines, as their nations are disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of rising seas and more severe storms.

Recipients are often unaware that their projects are being categorised as climate finance. An Egyptian official defended Japanese investment in the Borg Al Arab airport’s expansion but added that “there should be rules to ensure that countries claim only the relevant portion of a project’s funding as climate finance, not the entire budget.”
Climate financing culture is one with scant oversight or accountability.

Projects tangentially related to the climate or with minor aspects addressing energy usage have been lumped into the category of climate financing, as some developed nations are eager to boast their climate financing figures.

Criticism of the current “wild west” approach to climate financing points to the economic expansion focus of current financing efforts. The vague wording leaves room for interpretation and calls into question the oversight of the latest COP’s landmark agreement for a loss and damage fund.

Photo: A $4.7 million Italian investment helped Venchi, an Italian chocolate and gelato chain, open dozens of new stores across Asia, including this one in APM shopping mall in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong. Italy reported the investment to the U.N. as climate finance. (Credit: Nalamszei SKYoza/WikiCommons)

Sarah Sakeena Marshall,
American University School of International Service,
The Muslim News Environmental Columnist

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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